March 14, 2021
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
Exodus 28; Select Verses
Exodus 28; Select Verses
1 “Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests. 2 Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honor.
15 “Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of skilled hands. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 16 It is to be square—a span long and a span wide—and folded double. 17 Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl;
21 There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.
29 “Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord. 30 Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.
31 “Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth,
33 Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them.
35 Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he comes out, so that he will not die.
36 “Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: holy to the Lord. 37 Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. 38 It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord.
She liked what he said to her. She felt like he understood what she really needed. And when he offered her the chance to leave behind the one who loved her, she went after the one who would only hurt her. Unfaithfulness between two parties is arguably the deepest wound anyone can cut. And when attempts to reconcile are made, it often takes a third party to restore peace.
The ugliness of unfaithfulness occurs in all aspects of our lives. You and I can be unfaithful in the use of our time and money, in our relationships and work, in our diets and fitness. We can even be unfaithful in the way we drive our cars. When we get out onto the road, it is a privilege to have a driver’s license, and in order to keep it and avoid fines, losing our license or jail, we must be faithful to the rules of the road. If we are unfaithful to the rules of the road and are caught, then we deserve some kind of penalty. Since unfaithfulness plagues our lives, so do penalties.
The penalty for unfaithfulness to God was obvious to the people of Israel. God made the ugliness of Israel’s unfaithfulness or sin clear by the need for sacrifice. And God revealed that Israel’s unfaithfulness against him was so great that someone had to represent them before God or his anger would destroy them. The people could not approach God as if walking into a courtroom to defend or accept the consequences from a speeding ticket. Instead, God set aside a High Priest to serve as a go-between. The High Priest represented the people before God. The High Priest was the only one allowed into the most holy section of both the tabernacle and later the temple of God, the earthly places where God met with humanity. It was there in the most holy place that the priest satisfied God’s anger for the sins of the people by offering the blood of animal sacrifices. And, in Exodus 28, we get many details of the special clothing worn by the high priest to show the people that they were not worthy to be in God’s presence. Nor was the high priest worthy to be in God’s presence except when he wore the special clothing or else, he would be put to death.
The High Priest represented all of Israel when he went before the Lord. We hear in Exodus 28, 29 “Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord.” Aaron, the brother of Moses, from the tribe of Levi, was the first High Priest, and one piece of the High Priest’s clothing was a square breastpiece with twelve stones set in gold each one with a name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus, the High Priest represented all of God’s people. And God allowed the high priest into his presence to represent the people by requiring the high priest to wear a special name plate of pure gold that read, 36 “holy to the Lord.” and 38 “It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord.” With the picture of the High Priest, God was showing Israel that sinful humans cannot approach God to restore their broken relationship with him. Instead, they need a representative or a go-between to defend the people with sacrifice for sins to take away God’s anger and restore peace. Therefore, this position of High Priest ultimately pictured the Savior, Jesus.
Like the Israelites, you need a good defense against the penalty of unfaithfulness. Since you have been unfaithful and sinful in all aspects of your life, you’ve got a lot of penalties stacked up against you. And Hebrews 9 makes it clear that you will have to face all of those charges and stand before God to answer for all of your sins; 27 … “people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” And in order to defend yourself before God against that unfaithfulness, you might try to compare yourself to others with something like, “At least I did not murder someone, embezzle from my company or cheat on my spouse.” But that argument does not work with God as we hear in Matthew 5, 28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Both outward and inward unfaithfulness leaves you guilty. Plus, you know arguments like these do not work: “Oh, I just hate you and wish you were dead, but I would never murder you,” or “I would never steal money from my company,” yet you only work 35 hours a week because you were taking personal calls, napping, texting, playing games, etc. and taking a paycheck for working 40 hours, or “Oh do not worry honey, I have never been with another person ‘in person’, just in my mind or on a screen.” Unfaithfulness touches all aspects of your life. And some of you here are so aware of your unfaithfulness that you want to give up because no one would want to defend you with the kind of public unfaithfulness, guilt and shame you carry. Some of you are worried to come to church because you fear judgment. Or maybe you have all of that unfaithfulness, guilt and shame, but you work constantly to put on a good face hoping no one sees you for who you are and what you have done. Unfaithfulness touches all of your lives, and the only way you and I are saved from our unfaithfulness is by a go-between. You and I need someone to defend us before God on Judgment Day.
Jesus is your go-between. In Hebrews 9, the full statement regarding the penalty for your unfaithfulness is this, 27 “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Jesus faced the penalty for your unfaithfulness. The High Priest went into the temple representing the people with the names of all the tribes of Israel carved into stones attached to his clothing. And Hebrews 5 says, 1 “Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” Jesus, the chosen one, who came to this world to represent you. He did not wear your name for a short time. Instead, we read in Hebrews 2, 14 “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Jesus became a human being just like you. But he lived without sin. He lived faithful to God. Then, he made your unfaithful record his own. When penalty after penalty was stacked against you, Jesus stood in your place and died your death on the cross. Jesus has freed you from your sins by suffering all your penalties. So, your unfaithfulness, the devil, death and hell have no power over you because Jesus has crushed them as we hear in 1 Corinthians 15, 55 “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
You have been clothed with Christ’s victory. The clothing for the High Priest was extensive, but it was never the clothing that saved anyone. True peace was made between you and God through Jesus. Jesus took away your sins on the cross, and Jesus gave you his faithful record to stand before God on Judgment Day without sin, good, perfect, holy and righteous. One way Jesus forgives our sins and gives us his good record before God is through baptism. In Matthew 28 we read, 18 “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Jesus has all authority and is always with you. Jesus also gave his people baptism. Today we baptized a baby. This little girl, who is only a few weeks old, who is part of all the nations Jesus came to save, had no way to defend herself before God. She was conceived in sin as David said in Psalm 51, 5 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” She inherited sin and death from her parents just like they did from their parents all the way back to Adam and Eve as we hear in Romans 5, 12 “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Left on her own, she was defenseless against the penalty for her sin just like you and I are defenseless against the penalty for our sin, whether we are young or old, we cannot defend ourselves against sin. So, we let God defend her today through baptism. God worked through the water and his Word, and he put his name on this little girl. She along with all of you who are baptized is no longer labeled “sinner” but “saved.” She is a child of God and God will be with her all the days of her life, and one day, she will go on to live with her Savior in heaven.
She liked what he said to her. She felt like he understood what she really needed. And when he offered her the chance to leave behind the one who loved her, she went after the one who would only hurt her. When God made Adam and Eve, they were good, perfect and without sin. Faithfulness touched every aspect of their lives until they listened to the devil becoming unfaithful to God. The unfaithfulness between humanity and God is the deepest wound ever cut. Our sins cut God to the heart because he loves us, yet we are unfaithful to him. So, God allowed himself to be pierced again on the cross and by the wounds of Jesus we have been healed. Jesus’ work to save you and his faithful love to make you good again are captured in the words of Ephesians 5, 25 … “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Your great high priest Jesus will always be faithful to you, always presenting you clean, good, sinless and perfect before God. Freedom from penalty and peace with God is yours forever because we see Jesus acting as our go-between. Amen.